While sitting in my four hour speech communication class over the winter semester, the instructor stressed the significance and power of euphemisms and asked students to give some examples. Unsurprisingly, such examples like “passed away” and “overweight” were tossed out and greeted with an affirming nod. With the chuckle of my fellow students, I suggested “Public School”. Although she didn’t hear my example (or rather chose to ignore it), the fact remains that there is nothing public about “public school”. During the 10 minute break, a classmate asked me what the offensive or unpleasant alternative to the word was. Pausing for a moment, I responded with the definition of what a public school is: Mandatory Government Schooling for Youth. Although not as hard-hitting as the UrbanDictionary.com definition as ‘Government Funded Humanist Indoctrination’, I believe my definition will suffice. I want to quickly qualify my definition to illustrate the euphemistic qualities of ‘public school’.
When I was in high school my senior year, the English teacher asked the class why most students lacked school spirit. Being the head-advisor for the student council/government, she was genuinely concerned with why most students did not attend the pep rallies, the dances, the games, or wore the school clothing. When she began attributing the lack of school spirit to the efforts of the members of student council and the attitude of general student body, I countered by saying “If you expect students to have school spirit, then one should also expect criminals to have jail spirit.” With a horrified look on her face, she seemed appalled that I would compare school with jail. But how outrageous is it to compare the two? The striking similarity is that both are mandatory with consequence: if a child does not attend school, either the child or the parents may lose their liberty, simply for not attending. Due to the fact that schools are mandatory, this consequently opens themselves to adopting operating procedures similar to prisons: from hall monitors, armed guards, and cameras to the restricted speech and dress codes, is it any surprise to the bureaucrats why kids have no pride?
The inclusion of the word “government” is necessary to properly define public school. Whereas the word ‘public’ conjures up images of “public parks” and “the public good”, the phrase “public school” inadequately differentiates the two. By including the word ‘government’, we instantly establish that it is coercive in nature. There is not a single action government does which is completely voluntary; there is always some type of method implemented, may it be through taxes, force, or both, which compels or manipulates people to behave in involuntary ways. This is clearly seen: the government manipulates children and their parents through school taxes and jail time to attend their institutions. The very act that government bears the exclusive responsibility in formally educating children establishes that government has implied power over the educational state of the future. Additionally, and more importantly, it implies authority over both child and parent. Education town hall meetings aren’t about “getting your voice heard” but instead begging the masters of your children what they will do to them. Not only is it bad enough that parents have limited options of where to send their children, but they have even more limited choice at what their children are being taught and subjected to.
Whereas “school” conjures up teachers with apples, blackboards, and textbooks, “schooling” provides a deeper understanding of what occurs within the walls of government education. Milton Friedman illustrates this point when he stated, “If the only motive was to help people who could not afford education, advocates of government involvement would have simply proposed tuition subsidies.” The government schools are not exclusively motivated to teach, but also indoctrinate. When California essentially banned homeschooling, the presiding justice H. Walter Croskey stated during his ruling, “A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation.”
As early as the age of 5 (even earlier if Obama’s pre-kindergarten program is launched), government removes children from their parents for mandatory schooling. As any quick Google search shows, children are the most malleable at early ages, which provides a perfect opportunity to educate children how to read and write. While this is essential, is it necessary to include in the definition. Anyone of any age may receive schooling, but public schooling, on the other hand, is specific to youth.
The identification of euphemisms, especially used by government institutions, is the first step in determining the true purpose behind the fluff. Next time you are engaged in small talk with a new acquaintance, I implore you to instead ask them, “What mandatory government youth schooling program did you attend while growing up?” and enjoy the resulting facial expression.
Education – compulsory schooling, compulsory learning – is a tyranny and a crime against the human mind and spirit. Let all those escape it who can, any way they can. – John Holt